Wood Ticks / Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks
- Scientific name: Dermacentor andersoni
- Size: 5/8th of an inch
- Color: Dark reddish brown to black with a lighter patch near the head area.
- Shape: Tear-drop shaped with the legs grouped near the head
- Found in: Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nevada
The rocky mountain wood tick is best known for it’s connection to the spread of the disease Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. While on it’s own this insect is only a minimal pest to humans, it is the bacteria in it’s gut that can cause disease. Rocky mountain spotted fever can be potentially fatal if not treated correctly. All ticks are blood sucking parasites, but not all species feed on humans.
Signs of Infestation
If you have been bitten by a tick, you will usually be able to spot them on your body. Ticks like the warmer, darker and thinner skinned part of the body, so it is imperative to check yourself carefully when you have been in any area that contains heavy brush, tall grass or other types of high vegetation. Since rocky mountain spotted fever is not the only thing that ticks can transmit, it is very important that you make sure that you check yourself, your family members and your pets for ticks as the disease can affect dogs, cats and humans. If the tick has not yet attached it will appear as a small, dark, moving shape against the skin. If it is already attached, it will already be engorged, which means that you can see it as a small, globular shape. The best way to remove a tick is to use a pair of tweezers and grasp the part of the tick closest to the skin. Pull upwards with firm, straight motion and then drop the tick in an alcohol solution. Then apply an antibiotic solution.
Rocky mountain wood ticks are found almost exclusively in the the Rocky Mountain region of the the United States and are active between January and November. They are less active during the dry summer months. This tick prefers to dwell in the middle of the transition zone between forest and meadow areas. They are most active in cooler climates at higher elevations. They do not survive well indoors. Domesticated pets can also pass unattached ticks to their human owners so it is important to check your pets for ticks as well.
Both male and females of this pest feeds exclusively on the blood of other animals. The rocky mountain wood tick can live almost two years without feeding while they wait for prey to pass them. They prefer to feed on larger mammals and will wait in the dry brush and grass until they find a proper food source. Ticks are attracted to the carbon dioxide exhaled by living creatures and will gravitate towards to the source.
Treatment and Prevention
The best way to keep from getting a tick is to dress in long pants and shirts when traveling through ares where ticks are present. Remember to tuck your pants into boots or longer socks to prevent gaps in clothing where a tick might gain access to skin.